This special committee works to provide and expand training for using iCivics, the nation's most comprehensive, standards-aligned civics curriculum and resources program. Founded by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, and championed today by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the iCivics curriculum seeks to ensure that our nation's students understand our systems of government and civic processes-and in doing so, ensure the strength of our republic and the continued success of our nation for future generations.
The success of any democratic system depends on the active participation of its citizens. There is an important link between civic knowledge and civic engagement, and our system thrives if Americans understand how our government and its branches work.
Yet students are growing up in an uncivic-minded era. Civic education has nearly disappeared from the school curriculum, and, more than ever, youth are not voting and are becoming disillusioned with the political process. That's why, after serving 25 years on the bench of the Supreme Court, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor founded iCivics in 2009-and today, Justice Sonia Sotomayor is carrying that torch forward.
iCivics gives students the necessary tools to learn about and participate in civic life, and teachers the materials and support to achieve this goal. The free resources on iCivics.org include print-and-go lesson plans, interactive digital tools and award-winning games. iCivics teaches students how government works by having them experience it directly.
Since 2013, the State Bar of Georgia's iCivics Committee has been committed to reinvigorating learning about government and good citizenship in our state by promoting the use of iCivics. The iCivics Committee, in partnership with The Georgia Family Connection Partnership (GaFCP), the Georgia Center for Civil Engagement and judges, attorneys and civic leaders throughout the state, has provided training on the use of iCivics and its implementation into existing civics and social studies curriculum in several county and city school districts in Georgia. Just a few of the locations where iCivics training has been provided for by the State Bar's iCivics Committee include Atlanta and Fulton County Schools, Columbus and Muscogee County Schools, Augusta and Richmond County Schools, Athens and Clarke County Schools, Savannah and Chatham County Schools, and many others in all corners of the state. The State Bar's iCivics Committee has made presentations to civic organizations, the Georgia School Board Association and annually at the Georgia Council for Social Studies Conference held in Athens each October. In doing so, we have introduced hundreds of educators and, through them, thousands of students to iCivics and all of the materials and tools it provides for education and promotion of active participation in government. Our goal is to produce informed citizens ready to participate in the operation of our democracy.
Because of the efforts of the State Bar's iCivics Committee and its partners, Georgia has become one of the top states for iCivics usage, and recent data show significant usage increases throughout the state. By partnering with individuals and organizations that are also invested in improving civic engagement in our state-including the Georgia Family Connection Partnership (GaFCP), the Georgia Center for Civil Engagement, judges, attorneys and other civic leaders-the Committee has been able to expand its efforts to bring iCivics training to as many students as possible in every part of Georgia.
Tapping into GaFCP's civic health data, knowledge of communities and statewide reach, we are able to target trainings to regions with the greatest appetite for growth and to populations with the greatest need in order to achieve maximum impact. Opportunities to collaborate with other community members-such as volunteer lawyers, judges, Housing Authority leaders, Boys and Girls Clubs, scouting programs, and county and city officials-are also being leveraged and maximized through the partnership between the Committee and GaFCP. Additionally, the Georgia Center for Civil Engagement, supports and promotes the work of the iCivics Committee, and many lawyers and judges have been champions for iCivics in their own communities.
To continue raising our state's levels of civic knowledge and engagement, the iCivics Committee needs your help. Here are some of the ways you can get involved:
After having to postpone her speech in September of 2017, Justice Sonia Sotomayor talked with Emory University faculty and students, members of Georgia's judiciary, and representatives from the State Bar of Georgia's iCivics Committee about her involvement with-and her unique influence on-the national civics education initiative when she visited the university on Feb. 6, 2018. After sharing her own compelling story about how she chose to become a lawyer, what it was like to feel like "an outsider" for much of her life, including as a freshman at Princeton University and in her own Supreme Court chambers, Sotomayor spoke on the importance of engaging students in our democracy and championed iCivics as an excellent way to reach students from all walks of life. Justice Sotomayor highlighted the linkage between civic engagement and the ability to make a difference for all of us. "I believe in our involvement. I believe with all of my heart that unless we become engaged in our country and become active participants in making a difference in the world we're in, that we will be nothing but bystanders otherwise. And nobody should live their life being a bystander. We are here for a reason-every one of us-to make a contribution to bettering the world. But you have to have the heart to do it. And you have to have the energy and desire to leave behind a legacy greater than merely standing on the sidelines. And so, that's my involvement in iCivics, because it touched the cord in me that the best place to start making good citizens is in grammar school."
For the full story, please go to: http://gafcp.org/2018/04/11/sotomayor-icivics/.
For general questions about iCivics or the State Bar's iCivics Committee:
Chair, iCivics Committee
To schedule an iCivics training for teachers, after-school providers or others in your community:
Georgia Family Connection Partnership
To volunteer to help teach law-related iCivics lessons to students in your community:
Member, iCivics Committee
Member, Young Lawyers Division
Emily E. Macheski-Preston
Member, Young Lawyers Division
Katherine Dale Sheriff
Member, Young Lawyers Division